Only five days before my 18th birthday, I was kind of happy about it, but I was feeling weird changes in my body: my mouth was very dry and I’d had vaginal infections.
In the beginning, I wanted to think that that it wasn’t related to possibly having diabetes, but I kind of suspected it because I come from a diabetic family.
My mother, my two grandmothers and almost all my aunts and uncles have diabetes. Actually, my mother got diabetes when she was pregnant with me.
When you have diabetes, you have too much sugar in your blood, or glucose, which is what the cells in your body use for energy.
There are a lot of reasons why a person can get diabetes: diet, genes, lack of exercise, and more.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is generally only diagnosed in children and young adults and is caused by the body’s failure to produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone that signals cells to allow in glucose, which is how the body produces energy.
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form and happens when cells ignore the insulin or the body can’t produce enough to break down all the sugar in the blood. It is the most common form of diabetes and usually can be managed with a healthy diet and exercise.
The third type is called Gestational Diabetes and only occurs in pregnant women.
Source: American Diabetics Association
One day when I got to my house after school, I realized that I was losing my sight, which is a symptom of Type 2 diabetes. I was really scared. See sidebar for a description of the different kinds of diabetes.
I told my mom what was happening and she noticed that I had all the symptoms of diabetes. I checked my level of blood sugar in her machine. The machine was unable to measure it because it was too high.
Immediately, I called my clinic and explained what was going on. They suggested I come in as soon as possible. When I got to the clinic, they checked my blood sugar levels again.
Then a doctor came and told me that I have Type 2 Diabetes. That was why I was losing my sight and my blood sugar levels were too high. He explained that diabetes is a disease that happens when the pancreas doesn’t produce any or enough insulin to regulate the levels of sugar in your blood.
I began to cry because I knew that a lot of things had to change in my life. The next days were very hard to confront. I had to adapt to a new life of taking medication every day, using insulin and following a diet. It is hard to know that you have 10 or more years to start suffering some other diseases as a consequence of diabetes because diabetes is a progressive disease.
Long-term complications from diabetes can include nerve, kidney, eye and foot damage, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and more, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.
Moreover, the doctor explained to me that I had to lose weight because it is hard to control your diabetes if you are overweight. Everything was changing and I was so terrified because I have heard a lot of stories about people with diabetes and how they had ended.
Sometimes, you can lose your sight partially or completely because having too much sugar in your blood can damage blood vessels, which transport blood to things like nerves, and your retinas in your eyes. If diabetics don’t take care of their feet, they can lose them because of nerve damage, or from serious infections if cuts or blisters are left untreated. Diabetes are more prone to infection.
The next day after going to the clinic, I didn’t want to wake up because it was hard for me to follow the new rules of my life. I preferred to stay in bed and think that everything was just a lie.
But my family helped me a lot. My mother was by my side all the time supporting me and giving me advice because she is diabetic too. She told me, for example, that if I eat more times in a day but less food, it will help me control my diabetes.
My sister and relatives also gave me their support and love and it helped keep fighting. These days, I follow the recommendations of my doctor and I am trying to have a healthier life. I try not to eat foods that can raise my blood sugar levels, but it is really hard.
Diabetes is something that I will have forever and I have to learn how to control it. I don’t see it as a barrier to achieving my goals. I believe that it is going to be harder for me to do some things, but I am strong.
I’m not going to allow diabetes to rule my life.